The Government will continue to assist low-income groups and those with social housing needs by means of a range of targeted social and affordable housing programmes. The total housing provision, Exchequer and non-Exchequer, in 2004 of €1.885 billion represents an increase of 5.5% on the 2003 provision and should enable the housing needs of more than 12,000 households to be met in 2004 compared with almost 8,500 in 1998.
We are delivering the highest level of local authority completions for 16 years. In 2002, local authorities built or acquired 5,074 houses. In the first nine months of 2003 more than 3,270 local authority houses were completed or acquired.
The voluntary and co-operative housing sector continue to play an increasingly significant role in the provision of social housing with output of 1,360 units in 2002, the highest level ever recorded. In the first nine months of 2003, 1,113 units of accommodation were completed.
The provisions under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, will also assist in the delivery of social and affordable housing
The Government is committed to an ambitious scale of delivery of affordable housing. Activity is increasing significantly under the affordable housing and shared ownership schemes with more than 7,200 households having benefited under both schemes since January 2000.
The new affordable housing initiative introduced under the national partnership agreement, Sustaining Progress, is also being progressed as a priority. This new initiative is aimed at those who in the past would have expected to purchase a house from their own resources but find that they are unable to do so in the current market. The Government has made two announcements in July and December 2003 on the release of State and local authority lands in Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Cork and Waterford to the initiative. This initiative, combined with Part V arrangements, will build on the progress made in delivering existing affordable housing schemes to boost the supply of affordable housing over the coming years.